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Bitter Whaling Grounds

  • Trad

    'Twas on the briny ocean
    On a whale-ship I did go
    I often thought of distant friends
    I often thought of home

    Through dreary storms and tempests
    And through some heavy gales
    Around Cape Horn we sped our way
    To look out for sperm whales

    They'll rob you and they'll use you
    It's worse than any slaves
    Before you go a-whaling, boys
    You'd best be in your graves

    It's do it now or damn your eyes
    I'll flog you till you're blue
    Oh boys, I couldn't tell it all
    But every word is true

    The wind do blow and the great seas grow
    And we strain upon the oars
    And your heart would bleed at the sperm whale's speed
    And it's, Pull, you sons of whores

    The weary chase is over
    And the stars begin to glow
    And it's, Light the flares, you lubberly lot
    There's tryin' out to do

    I swore I'd not go back again
    Once was homeward bound
    For the pleasures are but few, my boys
    On them bitter whaling grounds

    As sung by A. L. Lloyd

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1967:] Chase of sperm whales, Pacific, c. 1850.
    By no means all the oldtime whaling was done in northern waters. In the 1820s, for example, more than a hundred British ships, mostly out of Hull or London, were fishing in the spermwhale grounds round the Horn off the coast of Chile and Peru and taking the long, long run across the Pacific by way of Galapagos Island and the Marquesas, to Timor. The trip would last three years. [...]
    Every crew has its notorious moaner, and in whaleships when the whales are scarce the number of moaners multiplies. Not that there wasn't plenty to moan about, especially for the men engaged in the Southern whaling round Cape Horn and up the wet and blusterous coast of Chile. Long voyages, stale food, vast stretches of boredom punctuated with brief frenzied and perilous bursts of action; as the lyric says: 'The pleasures are but few, my boys, on them bitter whaling grounds.' This song comes from some time between the 1820s and '40s. (Notes A. L. Lloyd, 'Leviathan!')

Quelle: England, ?

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